A Message from the Chair – June 2020

On June 19, BAFT’s Board Chair, Mark Garfield, published his monthly communication to the wider BAFT membership.

Greetings! Firstly, I’d like to say best wishes to you and your families during this challenging and unprecedented time. I hope all of you are safe and healthy. BAFT begins its 99th year as a global banking association during unique and difficult conditions throughout the world.

As Chair of BAFT, I plan to send a monthly “Message from the Chair” to the greater BAFT membership and hope it is worthwhile to you. It is an honor to serve this great association. The role of BAFT becomes more valuable in assisting our membership in this time of isolation.

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly altered professional work practices, societal connections, day-to-day activities and familial traditions. We, by and large within the transaction banking community, have the good fortune of working from our homes and surprisingly have discovered that it is effective and efficient.

In February, before many of the stay-at-home orders were established, I was able to visit a large pulse (peas, lentils, chickpeas) processing plant in the northwest area of the U.S. The plant employees were in a flurry of activity to prepare product for export and domestic consumption. Since that visit, demand for pulse products has increased, as noted in a March article in the New York Times. There is immense value in providing pulse products to feed the global population. In addition, the grower, harvester, processor, shipper, packager, transporter and retailer who must leave their homes each day each demonstrate their importance in keeping the food supply moving.

I recently spoke with a CEO of a large trading company who told me “the food supply doesn’t stop.” “Our employees are essential in helping the world get fed,” he said. A big thank-you to those who leave their houses each day to perform their work.

Our global banking role is a crucial link in the supply and delivery of essential products. We are the ones who finance and transact this global supply chain. Our services — collecting on behalf of our clients, making payments, converting currencies, examining documents, mitigating risks, providing capital and more — are the underpinnings of this global food supply chain. Our connectivity, collaboration and industry standards are ever important in normal times but certainly in times of challenge and change.

I look forward to this next year as we work together in facilitating trade that will culminate with the celebration of our 100th Anniversary next May. The events of today are a reminder that the work and efforts we make are essential in connecting and completing the global chain of trade.

Thanks to you all,

Mark Garfield
BAFT Chair
Head of Global Financial Institutions
Zions Bancorporation